Lively Locals 3: Drummer’s Field

Ghostly Drummer on a BattlefieldEverybody has a story about what happened on Drummer’s Field. No two are quite the same, and all of them are suspect. No written historical account of the battle fought there is known to exist. What few sages have studied the field’s legacy know scarcely more than the drunks who swap their yarns in nearby taverns.

There are, however, a very few facts upon which everyone agrees. Not less than two centuries ago, a battle was fought on Drummer’s Field. In that battle, a ruling line was ended forever. And, whether through victory or through flight, a great evil survived. Lastly, no one contests that something of the battle was left behind—though precisely what remains a mystery.

Drummer’s Field takes its name from a lone figure who walks its length each night. No one has ever seen where he comes from, or where he goes, but each night he emerges from the forest on the southern side of the field. He marches solemnly, beating his drum in time with his step. It takes him roughly a half of an hour to cross to the Northern side of the field, where he disappears again into the trees.

Many sages have studied the Drummer in depth. He is not a ghost, for he has corporeal form. Neither has never been confirmed that he truly appears and disappears. If he does, it is always immediately upon being out of sight. If his path is blocked by a physical object, he will calmly move around it without changing pace. The few times a person has dared to block his path directly, a bright yellow light has emanated from beneath the Drummer’s cowl. This light engulfs the blocker’s form, and when it dissipates, they are gone None who have been engulfed by this light have ever been heard from again.

A few attempts to forcibly restrain or attack the drummer have been attempted. If these attacks can be ignored, the Drummer simply continues his march. More serious attempts to restrain or harm the Drummer cause the Drummer to die, silently. Either clutching at his throat as though choking, or clutching at any wounds which have been inflicted on him. When the body is examined, it is discovered that there is no one within the Drummer’s clothing. Only a few nights later, the Drummer returns to the field, as though nothing happened. This has only been attempted a few times, since each time the Drummer has died, one of those responsible for his ‘death’ has disappeared without explanation shortly thereafter.

It has also been noted that upon careful listening, one can hear the sounds of a great battle with each beating of the figure’s drum. These sounds are only faint echos, so it is difficult to learn anything about the battle from them. An elven sage named Efrem once spent 50 years dutifully cataloging each sound she could make out from the beating of the drums. Even with her impressive elven hearing, the volumes she produced are primarily filled mostly with the clash of swords, and a few shouted commands. She did insist, however, that the sound was a little different each night.

The locals have come to accept the Drummer as a relatively innocuous creature, and even a source of community pride. They warn their children to stay away from him, citing of his deadly gaze. But every child knows you can’t be a man (or woman) until you’ve spent a night marching beside the Drummer.

GM INFORMATION:

Four hundred years ago, the king of a small kingdom stood against the demonic hordes of a Balor. The king and his army were slaughtered, and the demon carried out a ruthless campaign of genocide against the King’s people, erasing anyone who might remember the upstart who had dared to oppose him. With his dying breath, the King swore to the demon that the battle would never end until his people had been avenged.

The drummer appeared shortly thereafter, marching the field as a creature outside of time. Any who met his gaze were welcomed by him. The light he emitted sent them hurtling back through time, into the thick of the battle. Some managed to survive the battle, others were not so lucky. And none of them were able to change the battle’s outcome, and thus end the Drummer’s march.

At first, the Drummer had no form of his own. Beneath the clothing which bore the king’s colors, there truly was nothing. That changed the first time the Drummer was killed, about 15 years after he began his nightly march. Since then, whoever kills the Drummer has been possessed by its spirit. At night they rise as though they are awake, though they have no awareness of themselves or their surroundings. They instinctively know where the Drummer’s garb can be found. They immediately put it on, and travel to the field where they begin their march.

As they cross the field, the Drummer’s magic begins to take hold of them. And if they make it to the far end of the field, then they become bound forever to the Drummer’s task. Since then, each night when The Drummer disappears, he has been transported back through time to the battlefield. There the Drummer must watch, time and again, as the demons triumph over the goodly forces of humanity.

If anyone sent back through time is ever able to successfully turn the battle’s tide, and defeat the demons, the Drummer’s curse would end. Though the spell would not likely send the heroes back to their own time, instead trapping them in the past where they must either learn to live, or hope to find their own way back home.

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2 thoughts on “Lively Locals 3: Drummer’s Field”

  1. That is awesome. I’d love to strand a party 400 years in the past… or kill them there. Interesting story.

  2. I am stealing this, even though it’s not tagged. I have to change it though. I can’t use the whole part about sending the party back in time, because one of our other DMs already pulled a similar trick on us, and I don’t think my players would appreciate another bait-and-switch.

    It is an awesome story, though, and I really like the imagery of the Drummer itself, and the area the party is exploring happens to be chockablock with ancient battlefields. I think I am going to tie this in with either your Hanging Crown Dining Hall, or your Battlefield Execution. Eh, maybe both.

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